Many rod builders know that cork comes from just one place in the world: Portugal. Cork is the harvested bark off a cork tree, and harvests are monitored and regulated to ensure the health and life of the tree. As the world’s population continues to expand so does the need for more cork. But the supply is far from infinite – especially when it comes to premium quality grades that are being used in wine bottles, and, of concern to rod builders – premium cork for rod grips. With increased demand, and afinite supply, there’s only one direction for the price of cork to go: up.
In 2006, the cork handles on several of my favorite fishing rods were worn out, breaking down and in need of replacement. The constant process of absorbing moisture and drying out – inevitable with a fishing rod handle – eventually breaks down cork’s cellular structure, and handles begin to deteriorate.
Since I had been out of the rod building world for a while, I was shocked at how much the price of cork had gone up, while the quality had gone down. I began to see the need for a synthetic material that was as light or lighter the organic cork, was as dense or denser and could be shaped in similar methods currently used on natural cork. The result was Syncork.
Syncork is a plastic material made in the USA. Syncork is lighter and denser than natural cork, while providing the ability, depending on how it’s shaped, to leave different surface textures, from silky smooth for a refined feel in hand to a rougher surface for a more comfortable and secure grip, even with wet, cold hands. It provides a range of finishing options that can’t be accomplished with organic cork. Syncork can’t absorb water, dry out or rot, making long-lasting, durable grips that will look like the day it was shaped, even after 10 years of heavy use. Syncork is also resistant to insect repellents, UV rays, accelerated weather conditions, sunscreen, many petroleum products, alkaline, and many other chemicals found in practical fishing situations.
Syncork will not be for every rod builder out there. However many will appreciate its better grip capabilities, inherent sensitivity, durability and life span for both fresh and saltwater fishing applications. It may take a tiny bit of experience to learn and master (like it did learning to shape natural cork), but Syncork will expand your rod building skill portfolio and product offerings.
Syncork has been used by thousands of anglers since 2006 without fail and is a favorite rod handle material for many.
Please watch and enjoy the Syncork application video for a couple recommended tools and procedures to help you create one of the best fishing handles you can craft.